THE sitting room comedy club in Harrogate is proving something of a hit. But what did intrepid organiser and MC, 19-year-old student Tom Taylor make of the most recent one starring Hattie Hayridge, Stephen Carlin and Dan Antopolski? Graham Chalmers asks the questions. . .
Q: You started your MC-ing duties at the sitting room’s latest comedy night with a song about Tesco. I didn’t know you were a talented songwriter!
Tom: Neither did I. I’m studying for a music degree at the University of York, which I suppose should be something of an indicator but, even then, I’m neither a pianist nor a singer.
In truth, it’s a relief for me to be playing to such a sympathetic crowd at sitting room. I think they probably pity me - a 19-year-old music student playing a miniature children’s keyboard from Argos in the name of entertainment !
Q: Were you surprised that the very nice Hattie whats-her-face of Red Dwarf fame was a flesh and blood stand-up comic rather than a computer-generated image?
Tom: In a word, no. I have only ever seen glimpses of Red Dwarf on those delightfully reflective, British and melancholic television channels, Dave and G.O.L.D. I think it might be an era thing. I believe they are currently putting together a remake of Red Dwarf, though I’m not sure Hattie’s in it.
Q: The crowd at St George’s Hotel seemed remarkably big considering there were two other top comedy shows on at the very same time in Harrogate Theatre. Is Harrogate now the comedy capital of the north?
Tom: It was an incredible turnout! From what I’ve picked up (from primary school geography lessons), I think ‘the north’ is pretty big so I wouldn’t want to reference all of it; Harrogate is definitely carving itself out as one of the best places to see comedy in Yorkshire though!
Q: The second act of the night, Stephen Carlin was exceedingly good. You could tell he’s a scriptwriter for other shows. But were you surprised that, as a Scotsman, he had the best diction of the night?
Tom: No, not at all! Firstly, to imply the Scottish don’t have good diction and annunciation would not look overly good on my equal opportunities employer forms.
Secondly, Stephen is, pure and simple, a fantastic comic and a fantastic performer. He absolutely stormed Wednesday night. I look forward to welcoming him back to sitting room in the new year!
Q:Headliner Dan Antopoloski was very likeable, despite his appalling chunky jumper. For a highly literate chap from London he seemed a bit nervous. What’s your take on Harrogate audiences?
Tom: I really don’t know! After three shows we have three equally entertaining but very different line-ups and three very different audiences.
To me it just shows the variety of people living in the town and thus the diverse mix of people who enjoy stand-up comedy. To use an appalling footballer’s cliche, at the end of the day, a good comic will win over any audience and that’s certainly been apparent in our shows thus far!
As an audience member you will always have aesthetic preferences but as we saw on Wednesday night, at some point every comic had the entire room in fits of laughter.
It is testament to the strength of the British stand-up circuit and the quality of the acts sitting room, and Harrogate as a whole, are attracting. Here’s hoping it continues!
sitting room comedy club returns on November 9 at St George’s Hotel.